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Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday expressed sharp criticism of officials in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) who have been either delaying the projects or posing hurdles in their completion. Terming them as “non-performing assets”, Gadkari said that such officials should be sacked from the agency.
Gadkari’s disapproval came during the virtual inauguration of the new building of NHAI in Dwarka which took nine years for completion. Taking a swipe at the officials responsible for the construction of the building, Gadkari said that the photos of the officials involved in the construction of the building should be put up at the building so that everybody comes to know who all were responsible for taking nine years to complete the building.
“During a ceremony like this, the convention says that one should express his gratitude to the people involved in the completion of the project. But I’m don’t know how should I thank you all. The plan of the construction of the building was ready by 2008 and in 2011 it won the tender for the construction. It took 9 years for the completion of this Rs 200-250 crore project. It took two central governments and 8 chairmen to ensure that the work is completed,” Gadkari derisively noted while addressing the officials.
Completion of NHAI building in 9 years is no moment for celebration: Nitin Gadkari
The Union Minister further added that the completion of the current project is not an accomplishment to be celebrated as it took 9 years for a project worth just Rs 200-250 crores to be finished. He also raised questions on how the NHAI officials would complete the Mumbai-Delhi highway project pegged at Rs 80,000 crore- Rs 1,00,000 crore in the allotted 3 years when they took 9 years for the completion of a significantly smaller project.
Gadkari also raised questions on the work culture of the agency, saying “non-performing (NPAs) not worth doing even vermiculture are preserved here and are promoted here. He also said that he is ashamed of the attitude of such officials who are carrying such disgraceful legacies of being indecisive and delaying things.
“These officials are delaying things and creating barriers for smooth completion of the work and they sit at the helm of the agency. These are CGMs and GMs sitting for 12-13 years,” Gadkari said.
Recruitment at NHAI inherently flawed: Nitin Gadkari
The Minister also criticised the recruitment process at the NHAI and said that the agency had been receiving “bad raw material”. He also noted how senior officials had very little to none knowledge of the ongoing projects at the agency. He also wondered why the agency failed at attracting and retaining talents from premier institutes such as IITs.
Gadkari did not stop at that. He also suggested that a research paper should come up to highlight the reasons for the delays in the project.
The Union Minister warned that if things continue like this, he will have no option but to evaluate the performance of the officials. “I will have no other option to assess the performance of the officials. I need to resolve this issue and get rid of unwanted non-performing officials that are incapable of making quick decisions which ultimately delays the projects,” Gadkari said.